Dark Magic Spells

Killing Curse

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The Harry Potter Canon

"Yes, the last and worst. Avada Kedavra. ...the Killing Curse."
-- Fake Mad Eye Moody, teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts (GF14)

Killing Curse

Causes instant death in a flash of green light, usually leaving no sign of physical damage or of the cause of death that would be detectable to a Muggle autopsy.

History and Notes

The Elder Wand is associated with killing, but using the Killing Curse is not the only way to become Master of the Wand.  Grindelwald stole the wand from Gregorovitch. Dumbledore overcame Grindelwald by duelling without killing him, and Harry merely wrestled Draco's wand away to convince the Elder Wand he was a superior wizard.

References from the canon

  • One of the Unforgivable Curses (GF14), said to be unblockable and with no counter-curse, although Albus Dumbledore managed to protect Harry by putting some statues in its way during his duel with Voldemort in the Atrium (OP36).
  • This spell produces a jet (OP36) or flash (GF14) of green light, and a sound as though some huge invisible thing is rushing at the target (GF1, GF14)
  • Harry is the only known person to survive the Killing Curse (esp. PS1, GF14, also GF34; DH34, also DH36 ).
  • This was the curse used by Tom Marvolo Riddle to kill his father and paternal grandparents, who were found unmarked except for an expression of absolute terror on their faces. A Muggle autopsy could not determine a cause of death (GF1). As far as Albus Dumbledore was aware during Harry's sixth year, the Muggle authorities never learned how the Riddles died because the Killing Curse usually leaves no sign of damage, Harry's scar being the only known exception. The Ministry of Magic, however, knew at once that the Riddles had been murdered by a wizard. Riddle had taken care to use someone else's wand - that of his maternal uncle, Morfin Gaunt - to commit the murder, so that the magical equivalent of forensics would point to a suspect other than himself, and had further covered himself by tampering with Morfin's memory so that Morfin himself believed he had committed the crimes (HBP17). It's a disgrace to the name of wizarding law enforcement that no effort appears to have been made to clear Frank Bryce of the crime, the only suspect the Muggle authorities were aware of, when Morfin was sent to Azkaban for the crime (HBP17).
  • Voldemort has also personally used the Killing Curse to murder Harry's parents (GF34, DH17), Bertha Jorkins (GF33), Frank Bryce (GF1), and Charity Burbage (DH1).
  • Wormtail, on orders from Voldemort, used Voldemort's wand to murder Cedric Diggory with the Killing Curse (GF32).
  • A Death Eater tried to cast this on Hermione in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, but was tackled by Harry halfway through the incantation (OP35).
  • Voldemort tried to cast the Killing Curse on Harry (doesn't he ever learn?) and on Albus Dumbledore after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. Fawkes swallowed a bolt of it at one point (OP36).
  • Judging from the effect, Bellatrix Lestrange killed a fox with a nonverbal Killing Curse just before she and her sister Narcissa paid a call on Snape to discuss Draco (HBP2).
  • Mentioned as the Killing Curse in a Daily Prophet article (HBP3).
  • Severus Snape used the Killing Curse on Dumbledore at the top of the Astronomy Tower, however it was a planned mercy killing agreed to by both of them. Snape had previously given Dumbledore only a year to live after trying on the horcrux ring, and the Headmaster had also been poisoned by the potion in the sea cave while searching for another horcrux. (GF28, DH33)
Killing Curse
Magic Type Curses
Dark Magic
Incantation Avada Kedavra
Pronunciation uh-VAH-duh kuh-DAH-vruh



Aramaic: "adhadda kedhabhra" - "let the thing be destroyed".


NOTE: Abracadabra is a cabbalistic charm in Judaic mythology that is supposed to bring healing powers. One of its sources is believed to be from Aramaic avada kedavra, another is the Phoenician alphabet (a-bra-ca-dabra).

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Tags: death green murder